The State of Maryland has recently passed a law that allows the creation of for-profit “benefit” corporations that include in their charter a commitment to pursue goals other than profit maximization.  As the Washington Post reports:

These hybrid entities pay taxes and can have shareholders, without the risk of being sued for not maximizing profits. Companies can consider the needs of customers, workers, the community or environment and be well within their legal right.

A benefit corporation, for instance, could choose to buy from local vendors at a higher cost to reduce its carbon footprint, much as the Big Bad Woof does. The company, as a part of the incorporation, is required to file an annual report on contributions to the goals set forth in the charter and submit to an audit by an independent third party.

Benefit corporations provide a new governance tool for owners who value a goal other than profit.  One can argue about the wisdom or necessity of such a tool.  But, as this is FASRI, let me pose another set of questions:  what disclosures should such firms be required to provide?  Who should oversee such reporting requirements?  Should they be part of GAAP, even though they are non-financial?